Unplanned Celebration

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Sometimes it’s when things don’t work out the way you planned that it leaves an indelible mark on your memory.

 

I’ll never forget!  It happened last October after hurricane Irma hit Florida.  I was privileged to spend time in Marco Island with my girlfriends.

One of them planned a wonderful beach photo shoot at sunset featuring my fabulous girlfriends each wearing my mantra T-shirts “Don’t Compare, Don’t Compete, Celebrate! ” I was touched and felt so supported by these awesome women who are all so dear to me. I celebrate them!

We were excited, “I’m going to wear white pants with my shirt, is that okay?”

“Sure!”

“Rach, I’m just going to keep on these jean shorts with mine.”

“Yes, whatever you want to wear. The point is it can work with anything! I’m wearing these black leggings. No worries.” I reassured them.

We selected our outfits and got ready together.  It was great fun. We curled our hair, applied our makeup and selected our jewelry.  Someone texted our sweet friend Autumn, who lives in Marco, she texted back…”you might want to hurry there is a storm coming tonight.”

(It will blow over it’s Marco!” Let’s go! So…)

We piled in our rental van lookin’ good and smellin’ fine.  I was excited for this opportunity.  “Thanks for doing this you guys, these photos should be great!” I said.

We pulled into the parking area and the parking attendant asked,”What are you ladies up to tonight?”

“Lisa, our driver said, “Oh just heading  to the beach to do a photo shoot for our friend Rachel Inouye who is a speaker and…blah, blah, blah.”

He said,”Okay, great have fun and you look like a speaker.” (I shook my head and thought such a weird comment. He was probably thinking, Ya realize it’s supposed to rain, right? Goofy girls!)

As we walked down the board walk we passed a couple holding hands as they left the beach. We stepped onto the sand noticed only one other small group of five gathering their beach chairs and towels as they held on to their hats and exited quickly too.

We just stood huddled and motionless under a thatched shade hut for a second. We’re the ONLY ones here. It’s so deserted! “Not gonna be a wonderful sunset tonight. It’s cloudy and grey.” (For Marco Island, Florida that’s very ATYPICAL!)

“Hey, Rachel get out there and smile.” I stepped out from under the hut and onto the sand alone to get the first photo. It was breezy so I only posed for a few. (The wind blown look it okay, i guess. BUT No girl likes to have the wind-blown look especially if the wind causes ALL your hair to be in your eyes and face or when most is stuck to your lip gloss. At least THIS girl didn’t welcome it. I tried to pose but just laughed instead.)

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We hurried to snap a few photos to document the event and promote the CELEBRATE T-shirts hoping to invite others into the ever growing “Celebrate movement” when all of a sudden the wind came up and howled, this drastically altered our plans it caused us to hurry, giggle and panic a bit too. It was shocking and took our breath away.

As the wind blew stronger, the more laughable the thought of even attemping this endevor became. Then WIND invited its friend WATER and she joined in and made her presence known to all. We got drenched instantly.

We tried to run back to our van but couldn’t. We had no footing but slid like we were skiiing in our flip flops along on the slippery and flooded boardwalk. One friend didn’t even try to go fast because she was about to wet her pants from laughing.

She grabbed herself with both hands, hoping to help her stop the inevitable accident. She cried out indistinguishable words mixed with screeching laughter but finally made it to the shelter of the van. It was dry but very loud as the rain continued to pelt the metal roof.

These photos crack me up! I can still feel the rain and hear the roar of the wind even now! Memory made! Celebration embraced! ( Photos from FB sorry for their quality- a bit blurry, I know.)

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This is a Facebook post my friend Lisa wrote at the time. Enjoy the comments too.

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So let’s embrace and celebrate being together no matter what form it comes in, planned or unplanned.

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Pretty sure of this!

“I don’t know much but I’m pretty sure of this…” is a phrase my father Richard has said so often when I’ve heard him tell stories or teach. Both things he is gifted in along with another special quality I’ll mention here.

In light of recent Father’s Day, I thought I’d give a glimpse into a bit of my life with my Dad. I wrote in the Father’s Day card I gave him: Dad, you are my hero! You have taught me so much about God and the nature of our “with us ” God -Emmanuel.

I love to be with you. No matter what we are doing whether it is:

• eating

• laughing

• singing

• creating

• drawing

• playing the guitar

• constructing

• thrifting

• teaching

•repurposing

It doesn’t matter what I am doing with my father being WITH him is what I enjoy.

The other day we laughed as we carried things from the neighbor’s yard where scads of various items lined the curb. Because of an upcoming move they were throwing out a bunch of junk aling with some treasures too.

I helped my dad search these are the treasures we found:

• 100 DVD’s

• watering can

• small guitar amplifier

• collapsable stool

• Eureka vacuum

.• nice pieces of wood

He also grabbed:

• a bicycle

• a large piece of plywood

• a lamp

• a bike rack for behind a car

• truck tire and rim.

We hauled all these things home in waves and cleaned up the items that needed it. Some items have found a home already and others will be given away.

The next day we took a stroll, and I mean stroll, back down the street again to the same house where we grabbed another gem. Dad said, “We’re kinda like Sanford and Son, right?” The gem was a perfectly good twenty foot steel pole so we hauled it home.

I was wearing white pants with flip flops so my dad asked, “Are you good to go right through the yard, Rach?” I followed behind him carrying my share of the weight and length, he warned,” Careful it’s a little muddy here ya see, so I just go like this!” and away he went up the slight hill tromping through everything.

He continued to navigate as he lead me through the trees, plants and ground cover that lines the south side of my parent’s property. My feet began to feel cool because I was tromping on the leafy plants still wet from the buckets and buckets of rainfall we’d received.

We made it to the back yard and we lifted the steel pole up over the custom-built fence my dad made years ago behind our house. I stood on my tippy toes and pushed and held it there waiting.  Meanwhile dad went around between the house and went  inside his high wooden fence.

“Push a bit more, will ya? Okay, yeah, yeah, now I see it. Keep on a’comin!'” He instructed.

“Okay, Dad that’s it! That’s the last of it and it fits!” I exclaimed.

He told me he found table saw and jigsaw in the same find one time. He also said, “I picked up a lawn mower once at the dump I just pulled the rope and it started!”It probably hadn’t been sitting there too long. I’m not kidding, I pulled the rope and it started. I gave it to my brother and he used it for twenty years!”

I’m influenced so greatly by my father, like him I always experience “a thrill in the FIND.”

I don’t know much but I’m pretty sure of this..My dad is a master of salvaging things. He enjoys cleaning up, modifying and fixing things for his own use or giving them away to someone in need.

I love to be WITH him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

“‘My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ Luke 15:31 NIV

Father God, thank you for the good and perfect gift of my dad, Richard. I know every good and perfect gift comes from you so I acknowledge you as the giver. And thank you with a full heart that I’ve had Time recently to be with him.

Drawn Back to My Childhood.

I’ve had a lot on my mind today. I took a walk earlier this morning with a friend,yet my mind remained full. As thoughts seemed to loop, I decided to take a another walk to clear my head before dinner. I had only been gone about half an hour when I had this very random thought sneak in almost sideways. It was a thought that came from my early childhood. I was drawn back in time.

I could picture myself with my thin legs and boney knees tucked up under me, long, stick-straight light brown hair hanging down (Yes, I play with the color of my hair. It is usually blond now.) as my head was bowed in prayer. As a family we sat around our kitchen table which had a built-in booth like an “L” along the wall and corner with chair pulled up on the other sides.

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Maybe it was because I was hungry and needed to get back home to make something to eat, but I began to think about a simple little prayer we used to recite in unison at my family’s dinner table. It goes like this: “God is great! God is good and we thank Him for our food. By His hand, we are fed. Give us God our daily bread. Amen.”

This childhood memory came out of nowhere. I just thought of that short, child-like prayer as I was walking along. Then, as I traversed my neighborhood, I began to say it aloud, “God is great! God is good and we thank Him for our food. By His hand, we are fed. Give us God our daily bread. Amen.”

As my feet hit the sidewalk in rhythm I repeated the prayer in separate smaller phrases:

  • God is great!
  • God is good!
  • &
  • We thank Him
  • For our food——
  • By His hand
  • We are fed
  • Give us God
  • Our daily bread

I was struck by thanking Him for more than just my food. So I began to thank Him for:

  • His love
  • My husband
  • My family
  • My friends
  • His faithfulness
  • My healthy body
  • Our neighborhood
  • His kindness to me
  • His tender mercies-new every morning
  • His goodness

My mind quickly zipped to the rest of the prayer I learn as a little pip-squeak. I was struck by the words “by His hand” I thought of how God’s hand does more than just provide food. Man, God your hand does so many things. You have such busy hands! So I continued to say aloud, “By your hand:”

  • We are fed
  • We are led
  • We are guided
  • We are protected
  • We are saved
  • We are defended
  • We are delivered
  • We are supported
  • We are comforted
  • We are upheld
  • We are sustained
  • We are blessed
  • We are rescued
  • We are kept from being snatched

The remaining part of the prayer says, “Give us God our daily bread, amen.”

I got to thinking about more than FOOD. How the word of God is daily bread, the bread of life! So I thanked him for His written word, the Bible. I thanked Him for His word spoken to me through so many ways:

  • Other People
  • Circumstances
  • Songs
  • Sermons
  • Creation

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I believe the reason this childhood memory popped into my head is that no matter what happens in my life and how FULL my mind gets, I have settled the matter that God is great! God is good.

Scripture says that David strengthened himself in the Lord. I think just reciting this little prayer during my walk may have been how I’ve strengthened myself in the Lord.

I sure hope this reminder has strengthened you too.

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

 

I’m Overwhelmed!

When you hear the word overwhelmed what do you think? Is it a positive or negative word? Overwhelmed is defined as buried or drowned beneath a huge mass.

When I think about it I typically think of overwhelmed in the negative sense. I think I’m overwhelmed by tasks like piles of laundry. Or I’m overwhelmed by the weight of the concern I carry for a loved one. I can be overwhelmed by other people’s problems and life situations too.

I would like to change my tendency to think of “OVERWHELMED” in the negative sense and instead train myself to see it in the positive light. I love the current worship song, “Reckless Love of God.”* A few of the lyrics read “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”

Lately, I have been overwhelmed by God’s love even when I have been tempted to be “overwhelmed” by my circumstances instead. Just so you know God’s love trumped the other junk and my concerns every time, hands down NO contest!

A mentor and precious friend of mine, Jill Briscoe, says, “When you are overwhelmed remember you’re overshadowed!” I love that. I refer to it often and have passed it on many times to multiple people for a myriad of reasons. Lately, in the midst of hard circumstances I have looked for the ways I’ve seen God’s hand or timing and chosen to be overwhelmed by the goodness of God instead.

I’ve been overwhelmed by His goodness to me expressed in these ways:

  • Our recent tour to the Holy Land of Israel.
  • The beauty of spring time flowers and the lush green everywhere.
  •  A friend who walks with me three miles a day and prays.
  • God’s orchestration of caring people at the “perfect time.”
  • My husband’s hand interlaced with mine.
  • My parent’s constant love for me and my family
  • Texts “I’m here for you. Do you want to talk?”
  • A phone call “Hey, we’re headed to your house with carry-out tonight.”
  • My sisters’ love and support and prayers.
  • A phone call I received from a nephew expressing his deep love for me.
  • A long lingering hug from my son.
  • Many phone calls from my long distance son.
  • Warfare prayers from wonderful prayer warriors.

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I am simply OVERWHELMED by God’s goodness in the midst of circumstances that want to negatively overwhelm me.

God is lavishing us with love and pouring out his goodness always. So let’s grab a bucket or barrel to try to contain it all. Let’s stay attentive, turned in and aware of the positive side of the word overwhelmed.

So today, if you feel negatively overwhelmed. Remember that God promises these things:

  • He is for you, He’s not against you
  • Through Christ you can do all things
  •  Nothing is impossible with God
  • All things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.
  • We can consider it joy when we encounter trials because the testing of our faith produces endurance.
  • Hope will not disappoint.
  • God is the God of all hope. If your thought doesn’t have hope then it’s not from God.
  • God does not withhold any good gifts from his children.
  • God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
  • If you stumble you will not fall.
  • God holds you by his righteous right hand.
  • God has a banner over you and it is LOVE.
  • In your weakness He is strong.

God is our healer, provider, way-maker, comforter, friend, defender, deliverer, strong tower, sustainer, keeper and the lover of our souls. He delights to overwhelm us with his love and abiding presence. He is good. It is truly overwhelming!

We ARE OVERWHELMED. We are buried and drowned beneath a huge mass – it’s God’s love and goodness.

Father God,  I pray for the one who has felt overwhelmed lately, under a pile of negativity manifested in the forms of anxiety, worry, strife, dread or gloom and doom. I pray, in the name of Jesus, you would set them free. I speak out and release peace and  hope and joy and laughter and praise over each one now.

You promise to give us a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. You alone can make beauty out of ashes. That is my personal prayer right now and I pray this too for each reader. May we be overwhelmed by your love, forgiveness, goodness and glory. May our only response to being overwhelmed be thanksgiving and praise to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Oh, Jerusalem!

As I sit in the airport here in Tel Aviv waiting to board our plane to Toronto, I wonder. How does one take memories of a lifetime back home? They aren’t the kind that fit in my suitcase or carry-on bag. They seem to be best stored in my heart. 

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There is a scripture which says, 

but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

Luke 2:19 NLT

I will think about my recent trip to Israel often. I know for certain they will never leave me.